Thursday, April 30, 2015

Random Thoughts 04030 Education and Challenges

From preschool to university, all of my schooling in America was through the public school system. The American media loves to remind us that we are shit compared to Asian schools, especially Japan. So, it came as a surprise when one of my Japanese teachers in university told me that she attended a private, Christian school in Japan. Apparently, the education offered by that school was way better than the public schools.

Nevertheless, I was pretty certain that Japanese people valued education and they were pushing themselves to be the best.

After living here for a few months, and then a few years, I now know that Japanese people are, in the end just people. People in a country with a high standard of living, for the most part. And what I see is how having a comfortable upbringing has really given people no incentive to aim higher.

The other day I asked my boyfriend, who attended a private high school, if he thought his classmates were competitive. He immediately answered "yes" as I was continuing my question; "in the classroom." It was certainly difficult for him and others to get into that school, but in the school they had to just exist. They were free to do as they wished. There weren't even uniforms at that time, which is somewhat rare for Japanese schools.

Compare this to my public school system where we all were in three defacto levels: 
- Will just barely graduate from high school and if they do that's good enough.
- Completely average. Will probably go to some no-name state university and have an average life.
- Aiming for the top universities. Will be our future politicians, doctors, Olympic medalists, etc.

The competition in the top level high school classes was intense and set the groundwork for our future. I know my classmates judge me on my university, my job, and more. I work so that they don't look down on me more than they probably already are.

So, when I look at Japan and look at the lack of competitive spirit, I am sad. Is being average so great? Is going to some meh university and working an average job, marrying an average person, scraping together your average earnings for a trip to Okinawa once every three years really the life that people want? And then I know, in the US, we have so many different people with different stories to tell. Here, even if you have a different upbringing, you try to hide it.

I guess I'm frustrated that people here are so satisfied with being average and that pervades every other aspect of life here. Then I hear stuff about how Koreans or Chinese are "too aggressive" and ugh. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Random Thoughts 04202015

We're already into the new fiscal year in Japan, and I'm tired. I do a lot of tutoring throughout the week. Weekends are almost always filled with one or two groups of students.

Japan has a lot of "English teachers." But what it doesn't have are a lot native English-speaking women who can also speak Japanese at an intermediate level. Why does it matter if one is male or female? And, don't Japanese women (the group that typically goes for English lessons) love white men?

The answer is yes and I dunno, ask a Japanese woman.

Here are three English-speaking jobs that are in need of females:

1. Kindergartens
If you like or can tolerate young kids, then "international" kindgergartens throughout Japan want you. A preferance for a female teachers isn't something that's unique to Japan; in the US, too, females are preferred as kindergarten and elementary school teachers. 

2. Eikaiwa (private)
It's almost always mothers who arrange lessons for their kids. Certainly some mothers would like a male teacher, but in my experience they really want females. This is especially true if they have daughters.

With kindergartens and eikaiwa, the likeability of the teacher is huge. Parents want someone they can trust and someone they feel they can confide in. And more than anything, they want someone who can look after their kid with the same kind of love they give them. At the moment I keep getting more and more requests from people who want someone to tutor their child or who want to practice English themselves. All of them want females.

3. Voice Work
If you speak English with a standard North American or British accent, there are many companies that would love to have your voice on their products. At my previous job, I was asked to do the voices of at least four different characters for a product because there were no other native English speaking females.

I think that if someone were to start a kindergarten or eikaiwa company where the majority of the staff were English-speaking females from top universities around the world, they would make a killing. But, I don't know how long I could or can last in the English-teaching world.

Random thoughts 以上。

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Musing on Makeup

These days, Asian make up is hot. BB creams are available in the US; websites devoted to Korean and Japanese brands are easy to find, and more people are turning to Asian brands for improving their skin.

Since I'm living here in Japan, I feel like it'd be a crime not to jump on this wave. And when it comes to skin care, I can fully endorse Japanese and Korean products; they smell nice, they come in nice packages and more than anything, they make my skin feel nice!

But, it's not acne face wash or moisturizers that are giving me trouble; it's make up. I never wore makeup in the US, and neither did my mom. I have no real idea about how it's supposed to look on my face. That's a problem. Because for the past few years I've been playing it by ear; "hmm...seems close enough??" ---*gets home*---> "wth is this??"

Generally, drugstore makeup has about 4 to 6 shades available. Some only offer two or three shades. Even foreign brands slash their selection in Japan. MAC, Clinique, Dior, etc all offer fewer shades than what can be found in the US. On the one hand, it shouldn't be too surprising...Japanese people probably don't have the wide range of skin tones that we have in the US. Why waste shelf space on product that only a small number of people may buy?

Yes, I realize I copied the wrong foundation on the Japanese side. I picked the first one, like the US site, without double-checking. However, the same foundation on the Japanese site offers the same range of shades as the one in this picture, so I'm leaving it!

What's more is that the women working the makeup counters typically suggest lighter shades. I've been told, "You could get this shade, but, it'll make your face darker. This (lighter) shade makes your face look brighter." Who doesn't want their face to look bright? Who goes to a makeup counter saying, "Gimme the shit that looks like I came straight out of hell"? No one, that's who.

Ya'll aren't helping me much here...

Going to the makeup counter is stressful enough; I know they want to sell me something and they know I probably won't buy anything. My experience this year has been as follows:

At Clinique: 
I went to get the free sample that was offered to me and ended up getting makeup'd. The woman gave me a sample of what she used: 64 Cream Beige (Even Better Powder Makeup). It seemed OK, and the sample seemed to match my skintone. Before deciding to buy more, I searched online and found that everyone who used that shade was WAYYYYYYyyy lighter than I was. 
Went to a different Clinique booth, talked to the woman there and she applied two other shades that were darker than the first one I got. Unfortunately, there were no samples for me to try, so I left empty-handed.

If you clicked on that link and looked for #64 and couldn't find it, welcome to my world. The numbers used here in Japan almost seem to be pulled out of thin air. The US site also offers 20 shades to Japan's 10.

At Chanel:
I was wearing make up, the Clinique foundation from above, when I stopped by Chanel to buy lipstick. When the woman getting my lipstick asked if there was anything else I needed, I asked about foundations. She pulled one out and applied it on top of what I was wearing and declared that it looked OK. I told her I'd come back.

At Dior:
I've been interested in Dior Snow because it's only available in Asia and seems pretty cool. Aside from the Dior Snow shades, there is Dior Nude and others that are available worldwide. The shade I tried was 030 Medium Beige. When the woman patted it into my skin, it didn't seem like it stood out, but I expressed concern about my forehead. The bit she applied to my forehead was definitely lighter, but...I don't know? Maybe? If this woman, who is way lighter than I am can wear it, maybe that means it's too light??

One common factor with all four (went to two Cliniques) of the women I talked to was that they seemed ignorant of the "pink or yellow undertones" thing that I hear so much about, but doesn't seem to help me. And they also put the foundation on their wrists, which might be fine if I were as light as they were, but they might as well have scribbled on a mirror for as helpful as that was.

And so, the search continues...